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ELCA Youth Gathering Blog

Stepping Outside Your Comfort Zone


The first thing that comes to mind when I think about volunteering with the Gathering is stepping outside of my comfort zone. It was an unexpected invitation that pulled me out of my day-to-day cycle and reminded me of the variety of talents and gifts God creates in me to love, support and connect to my neighbors.

When times came that challenged my energy level or my ability level, walking through the week with hundreds of other people who had offered up their own vacation time, jobs, families to create an event for the young people of our church, made me pause and remember how great God is.

Volunteering provided me the opportunity to serve with folks from all walks of life like college students between semesters, parents giving back to the Gathering they attended as youth, pastors on vacation, and others that felt the call to give of their talents as a chance to help others grow. Serving alongside those people, I still recall the goosebumps I got from being on the floor of NRG Stadium as tens of thousands of youth and adults lit up water bottles with glow-sticks, flashlights, and cell phones and swayed to the music in a kaleidoscope of colors and movement.

It’s these types memories and interactions that I stock up on to remind myself that volunteering and giving of myself is so crucial to my spiritual life and my connection to others and God. A comfort zone has its place, but so does setting it aside to help others be in theirs.

To learn more about our volunteer opportunities, please visit our website

Joshua Lotz is a 30-something partner and father of 2 young children. He has worked in youth ministry for 11 years and accompanied youth to the 2012 and the 2015 Gathering. Joshua has served as a volunteer in Houston and is a member of the Volunteers team for the 2022 Gathering in Minneapolis. 

There is a place for you


As a shy introvert, being up on stage in a room of 700+ people is one of my worst nightmares. If you would have told me years ago that I would have been playing guitar, singing, and rapping (yes, rapping), in front of hundreds of youth from the North Carolina synod, I would have thought you were delusional. I was never really one to have a place in a group. There was a voice in my head saying, “I didn’t belong anywhere,” and I let that voice control my life for a long time. Until I met the band.

Rewind to 2015, there was an interest meeting to form a youth band for Synod Day at the Gathering in Detroit. I went to the meeting just to see what it was about. I was immediately pulled in. A few months later we had our first practice. I hated playing in front of people before, but something was different with this group. Our first practice was rough as we learned to play together, but as soon as we finished playing through our first song, I noticed something. The voice in my head telling me “I didn’t belong” was gone. It was replaced by a warm voice telling me, “Here, there is a place for you.”

Fast-forward to 2018, I had the opportunity to play with them again at the Gathering and many other synod events. They became my family, and that sense of belonging never left. Now in college, that sense of belonging has continued with me. Being involved with Lutheran Campus Ministry at my school and within Region 9 events, everyone and anyone is welcomed and affirmed. 

So come, the table is set, and there is a place for you. 


Grace Robinson is a sophomore at Roanoke College in Salem, VA majoring in Christian Studies and minoring in Psychology. She is originally from Concord, NC and a member of Christ Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.